I’m thrilled to share my review for the debut novel by Laura Bambrey on my book review blog today. Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for granting my wish on NetGalley to read and review – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.
Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t. Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
2020 will be remembered for many different reasons, primarily the global pandemic. One small positive of this, is that I have been able to read and review more books this year, and I now have another lovely debut novel to shout about to fellow booklovers – I really enjoyed reading The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness.
In March 2020 most countries across the world had to lockdown, to keep their populations safe from an invisible killer. Thankfully many of us have access to modern technology and can stay in touch with family and friends via messages or video chats. However, millions of people across the world will be in Tori’s situation – lots of virtual friends but no close real friends. In my grandparent’s generation, people tended to not move far from their families when they left home and had their own families. However, this has now changed, especially as more of us travelled for university courses or fell in love with another county or country when on holiday.
I moved to Wiltshire from Yorkshire just over 25 years ago, and although I’ve made some good friends, I do find myself feeling lonely at times without my family living nearby. Loneliness is a big issue in our world and Laura’s book shows how easy it is to end up in this situation, especially now more people are working from home every day.
I loved the way the characters developed in this story, my favourite characters were actually secondary characters – Doreen and Rowan, who both help Tori in so many ways. There is also a dog called Dennis in this story and all the best stories include a dog (with a handsome owner). The story looks at how Tori found herself feeling so isolated and lonely and why she found it hard to trust other people. It also looks at the dangers of social media – how we need to be careful when chatting to strangers. However, it is a voyage of self discovery for Tori during her stay at The Farm, and without any spoilers, this is an uplifting read, not a tale of doom and gloom.
Thank you Laura Bambrey for such a thought provoking and touching story. I look forward to seeing this ebook flying high in the digital book charts after publication at the end of July 2020.
Laura Bambrey was born in Dorset but raised in Wales. She’s worked as a trapeze choreographer, sculpture conservator and stilt walker, amongst others, and spent most of her time collecting stories from the people she met along the way.
She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women’s fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.
You can connect with Laura on twitter @laurabambrey, on Instagram @laura_bambrey_books, on Facebook @laurabambreybooks, and via her author blog laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com